Cel and Chachic last week, I was reminded of how little YA I've been reading these past few weeks. Not because there is an extreme lack of it in my library; my friend Oz has kept me well-supplied. But since I kept shuttling back and forth Manila since September, most of the books that I have bought and borrowed have remained in the city even when I had already returned to the province. Well, now that I'm in Manila I have no excuse, so I took on Norma Fox Mazer's After the Rain.
I had read Ms Mazer's Babyface a long time ago and I had A My Name is Ami /B My Name is Bunny when I was in grade school, but I really can't remember how those books made me feel. After the Rain has a fairly straightforward storyline about a teenage girl and her dying grandfather, without a lot of plot hooks and twists. It starts out rather slowly mainly because Rachel isn't particularly memorable for me. She felt very gloomy (although I suppose if I had been younger, I would have liked the fact that she wanted to be a writer).
Although it took me a while to warm up to the story, I eventually started getting interested in the relationship between Rachel and her ornery grandfather Izzy. The characters in the book always call Izzy 'mean', but it really feels that we have different definitions of the word. I thought Rachel's character only emerged through her grandfather's influence, and by the end of the book, I felt truly invested in the things that she cared about, as opposed to my indifference to her in the beginning. I like how the book scrutinized the other relationships within their family, the cracks in their facades.
One of the strengths of novel lies in how Rachel and Izzy grew, both as individuals and in terms of their relationship as granddaughter/ -father. It's a solid YA read, if you can soldier through the heavy mood of the themes tackled here and Rachel's own serious outlook as a protagonist. The payoff is touching, poignant, and leaves enough room for reflection.